Jerusalem of concrete: Is Israel's capital becoming unlivable?

Is the municipality allowing – or actively participating in – the Holy City and its green spaces being overtaken by towers, traffic and developers?

 MASSIVE CONSTRUCTION site off Jaffa Road, not far from the city entrance (and opposite where ‘Jerusalem Post’ staff work amid the cacophany). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MASSIVE CONSTRUCTION site off Jaffa Road, not far from the city entrance (and opposite where ‘Jerusalem Post’ staff work amid the cacophany).
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Jerusalem is the Holy City for millions of Jews, Muslims and Christians around the globe. As such, it is at the top of the religious and spiritual pedestal. 

Yet, on a more down-to-earth level, where is the city headed in the areas that truly create quality of life – such as traffic, housing, sanitation and garbage collection? 

With what seems like a construction site on every corner and a traffic jam on every street (what came first, the chicken or the egg?), the city – especially over the past two years, when many of us have been stuck at home with ear-splitting headaches – has had many questioning whether it has become a sort of “coming attractions” purgatory. Navigating through the complicated arrangements of cranes, barriers and road closures can turn a 10-minute drive into a 40-minute ordeal (not taking into account the delays caused by protests and official visits that have always been a necessary evil of life here). Heck, even getting into Jerusalem has become an issue, with ongoing traffic at the city entrance. 

Is Jerusalem of 2022 truly a livable urban space? Can it even become lovable?

 Is the Holy City being overtaken by towers, traffic and developers? (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Is the Holy City being overtaken by towers, traffic and developers? (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Nowhere to go but up

The population of Jerusalem has increased exponentially in the past 80 years. In 1946, two years before the founding of the state, Jerusalem’s population was 164,000. After the division of the city following the War of Independence, 84,000 remained on the city’s western side. Following the 1967 reunification, the population was approximately 250,000. Today, the Jerusalem metropolitan area population is approaching 1 million. How can the city make room for more people?

In recent years, the vertical take on the sacred city seems to be taking on a more solid, bricks-and-mortar form. How many of us, for example, recall the charming villagey aesthetics of Hanevi’im Street with its long stone walls, history-laden single- and double-story edifices that conjured up images of a much smaller and quieter hilltop collection of bedroom communities? 

Years ago, the Magazine sat with the then-director of the Swedish Theological Institute, built by iconic architect Conrad Schick in the 1880s, in the twilight of a fine spring day. “Until recently, I could see the sunset over there,” he remarked, looking in the general direction of Tel Aviv. “Now those buildings block that. I feel as if Jerusalem is closing in on us.”

This is a sentiment that is becoming increasingly palpable around town, as the construction of towering office blocks and residential buildings gather great pace.

As one veteran Jerusalemite told us the other day, “It is all well and good moaning about destroying the skyline here, but people need somewhere to live, don’t they?” 

Good point. Housing has been in short supply in Jerusalem for some time now. But, how much of the building currently in such rapid progress is going to provide affordable housing? How many young couples, for example, will be able to scrape together the deposit and then manage the monthly payments on mortgages anywhere in Jerusalem, even in the less fashionable parts of town?

For years now, locals have complained about the phenomenon of offshore investors buying up desirable real estate in areas such as the German Colony where, even in pre-COVID-19 times, “ghost apartments” often stood desolate for 50 weeks a year. The gist of the gripe is that it pushes property prices up even higher and also limits the available accommodation space in the city.

While luxury projects targeted at wealthy absentee owners draw negative attention, efforts are being made to offer more affordable housing to Jerusalemites. In February, the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Israel Land Authority launched a plan to provide 30,000 housing units at significant discounts for young couples. Approximately 10,000 housing units are expected to be advertised in the first round, with the first lotteries planned to take place before Passover. In Jerusalem, 731 apartments will be offered in 2022, with 468 in the first lottery. 

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem in charge of foreign relations, international economic development and tourism, adds that the city is encouraging mass building, especially near the path of the light rail. “It is important to keep young people in the city and bring housing prices down,” says Hassan-Nahoum. “The more buildings that are built, the lower the prices will go.” 

She adds that Mayor Moshe Lion has also encouraged affordable rentals in Jerusalem, and this, coupled with her team’s efforts to bring in more hi-tech, will keep younger people and their youthful enthusiasm and earning potential here – rather than allowing them to flee to Tel Aviv’s more glamorous shores.

YET, THE evolving skyline metamorphosis is an existential conundrum that is uppermost in Alon Schwartz’s mind. As a resident of the German Colony neighborhood, the senior surgeon who serves as a director of the Trauma Unit at Shaarei Zedek Hospital is naturally concerned with his own patch. A couple of months or so ago, he happened upon some disturbing information which, he felt, could have drastic repercussions for his and his neighbors’ quality of life. 

“I bought a used car, and I had to register it on a website called the Government Personal Zone [Ezor Ishee Memshaltee],” he recalls, adding that the site offers information about a wide range of mundane topics. “You can register your dog there, and there is also an area which notes construction projects, at all stages of development, in your environs.”

That caught Schwartz’s eye and then grabbed his mind and shook it up none too gently. “I was curious to see what was going on, and I saw there were three massive construction projects scheduled to be built in the area, and that the plans had already been approved by the Local Planning and Construction Committee.” 

There was no time to be lost if there was going to be any chance of blocking or, at the very least, limiting the scale of construction. “By the time I saw the information, there was only about a week or two left to file objections to the plan,” Schwartz explains.

He quickly got in touch with the local Ginot Ha’ir Community Center to see what could be done about it, but discovered that the local engineer had not made a move. “He had given up,” says Schwartz. “He had already submitted a lot of objections to all kinds of municipal projects over the years, and nothing had come out of that.”

Schwartz got a petition together and managed to accrue 5,500 signatures of locals objecting to the sprawling building program, which he duly submitted to the planning committee. “On one side of the fruit juice stall [near the intersection of Harakevet Street and Bethlehem Road], they want to put up four buildings, two with 10 floors and two with five floors. And there are going to be six 10-story buildings on the other side leading up to Miriam Hahashmonait Street.”

He had stumbled upon the gargantuan project planned for the city’s south side, with a series of mixed residential and commercial complexes – five projects comprising office buildings, hundreds of apartments, boutique hotels and retail space – intended to create a new Jerusalem hub. Supported by big names such as supermarket mogul Rami Levy and Jerusalem Venture Partners chairman Erel Margalit, it is set to spread out over 75 dunams and encompass the First Station entertainment/cultural complex’s eateries, shops and open spaces, as well as sites in the nearby neighborhoods of Baka, Abu Tor and Talbiyeh.

 ENJOYING OUTDOOR ‘bubble’ dining at the First Station: ‘How could [Mayor Lion] think of destroying this wonderfully successful place by building towers all around it?’  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) ENJOYING OUTDOOR ‘bubble’ dining at the First Station: ‘How could [Mayor Lion] think of destroying this wonderfully successful place by building towers all around it?’ (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

“I see it as the Soho of Jerusalem,” commented Avi Morduch, the entrepreneur behind the First Station and a developer behind one of the new plan’s projects.

In contrast, on the ground, Schwartz feels that if the plan goes ahead, the character of the entire neighborhood will be irrevocably changed. “They are going to build a whole city there, and for what? So some rich American can come over here, a few weeks a year, and enjoy a view of the Old City.” 

The thinking, he says, needs to move away from quick real estate-generated revenue to a longer-term roots-related approach. “This is a historic area, with the old train station and, of course, is not far from Armon Hanatziv [the neighborhood and its celebrated promenade overlooking much of Jerusalem]. They should be thinking of making the area something along more stately lines. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to block the building of private apartments, which we know will be empty most of the time, and to create something that will glorify the city instead of making it ugly.”

Adding his voice to the protest already mounted by residents who claimed the project would destroy two orchards visible from the area’s Mesila path, Schwartz let Mayor Lion know how he feels about the plans for his residential backyard. Paradoxically, as then-head of the Jerusalem Development Authority, Lion was responsible for the makeover of the First Station compound, with restaurants and cafés opening there in 2013. “I sent him a letter asking him how he could think of destroying that wonderfully successful place, which everyone enjoys, by building tower blocks all around it. That is ludicrous.”

The municipality spokesperson says the objections to the project were “carefully considered” by the planning and construction committee, and it “conveyed its findings to the local committee, which will make a decision after listening to the objectors a second time.” The spokesperson added that “the local committee is therefore of the opinion that the plans are appropriate in terms of planning; they complement the constructed fabric of the city in an undeveloped area, and do not adversely impact on Mesila Park [urban park with 7 km. of walking and biking trails], which is dear to all of us.”

How ‘green’ is Jerusalem?

The quality of life in Jerusalem, particularly the ecological aspects, is something which occupies Naomi Tsur most of her waking hours. The British-born veteran Jerusalemite, a former deputy mayor and a mover and shaker on the urban ecological scene, heads the Jerusalem Green Fund and the Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition. 

“We also work with the government on sustainable urbanism,” she elucidates. This, she explains, involves ensuring that residents have access to the basic components of quality of life, such as food stores, safe playing areas for kids and shaded spots. 

“These are all things that became apparent during the time of the corona,” she notes, “finding them within 100 meters of our homes. We start asking ourselves, is this the difference between the haves and the have-nots?”

The latter lies very much at the crux of street-level action, of ordinary everyday folk somehow finding the energy, time and monetary resources to take on those in power who are charged with keeping the public’s – aka their electorate’s – best interests at heart. Tsur, for example, was at the forefront of the battle to scupper grandiose real estate plans for Gazelle Valley. The rare urban natural open expanse is home to gazelles, all manner of flora, and is overlooked by the aesthetically incongruous towering Holyland residential complex, which famously involved all kinds of criminal shenanigans.

Residents at the rear end of Armon Hanatziv currently find themselves in just that challenging predicament. Locals who live near the Mitzpetel site are fighting a plan to construct a large police complex there. They say it will not only overshadow the natural beauty spot and obscure the singularly spectacular panoramic view of the Old City, the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea, but it will also destroy the mound which, at this time of the year, is awash with purple lupines.

“People come from all over the city, and from out of town, to see the lupines,” says octogenarian and longtime local Shula Lederman. “And there’s all the traffic, of police vehicles, here, in a dead end. We hardly have room for our own cars here.”

The David and Goliath scenario description applies here too. “We have to take a lawyer to fight this,” Lederman adds. “That costs between NIS 120,000 and NIS 180,000. We are not rich. This is a working-class area. We have to get some headstart funding going for this.”

Putting it lightly, she is not at all pleased with the way the municipality has handled the issue. Her disappointment was compounded by City Hall’s plan to organize the Purple in the Palace (Segol BaArmon) Festival, with all sorts of arts and crafts and family-oriented activities lined up over three days. That should have taken place this week, but the forecast for inclement weather resulted in a deferral. 

“That is bare-faced chutzpah!” Lederman exclaims. “We put out mourning notices in response to that. The festival has been postponed to just before Passover. But who knows if there will be any lupines still in flower then?” Not to mention that, if the police HQ construction project goes ahead, the first Purple in the Palace Festival could also be the last.

Lederman and her neighbors believe Lion et al. could have done more, much more, to stem the decimation of Mitzpetel and other invaluable green lungs and sites of natural beauty around town. “The municipality decided to support reducing the police construction by one floor. But their position is not in our best interests. We suggested alternative sites for the police headquarters, but the municipality wants the police here.”

Lederman’s take on City Hall’s stance is supported by a statement from the municipality’s spokesperson, who suggests there is nothing to fret over. “The Jerusalem Municipality sees great importance in establishing a police station in Armon Hanatziv, together with limiting harm to the natural beauty there,” it reads. “The plan approved by the Local Planning and Construction Committee, after adjustments were made to the original plan, will not harm the unique lupine hill.”

The statement also notes that the municipality recommends prohibiting “permanent entry to vehicles, from the neighborhood to the proposed building. In so doing, the committee acted to preserve an appropriate balance between security considerations and environmental protection.”

Deputy Mayor Yossi Havilio says he is not buying that. “The municipality and the district committee are not doing enough to protect the urban nature sites. Building apartments is important but not at any price, and not at the price of harming nature sites.”

Havilio has been an outspoken critic of the police HQ construction plans, and submitted his detailed objection to the project, both to the Local and Regional Planning and Construction Committees. “I am of the opinion that the designated site of the police compound inflicts severe damage on one of the most beautiful and rare nature and observation sites in Jerusalem, a nature spot which should be nurtured and safeguarded, as long as we strive for quality of life and to protect the environment.”

He also feels the majority of local residents do not object to a police presence there. Rather, the plan as it stands it unacceptable. “I believe that the construction of a police compound at the planned location will be an enduring stain, and will cause irreversible damage to the fabric of the area of the Armon Hanatziv Ridge and the Old City Basin. I think that, in any reasonable and normal place, efforts would have been made to preserve the site, and certainly not to build an enormous police compound right next to it.”

Havilio also touches on the role of the site in maintaining the fragile and precious local sociopolitical equilibrium. He described Mitzpetel as “a community interface, an intersectorial meeting point, a free leisure spot.” The former references the proximity of Tsur Baher, an Arab neighborhood just down the road from Armon Hanatziv. 

Havilio continues: “The construction of a police compound there, regardless of the size, will not only decimate the tourism potential but also the community and social fabric which has grown around this extraordinary site. Any harm inflicted on Mitzpetel damages Jerusalem and its residents.”

Meanwhile, Mitzpetel won a stay of execution earlier this week when the District Planning and Construction Committee delayed making a ruling on the matter, and asked for more information to be provided. Havilio advises continued caution. “The fight isn’t over yet. We suggested five alternative sites for the police compound. That would make much more sense.”

Similar environmental concerns have been expressed regarding Reches Lavan (White Ridge) and its verdant terraces and springs, with a new neighborhood set to be constructed in the Jerusalem Hills site, southwest of the city. The neighborhood was originally slated to include 5,250 housing units as well as commercial and business space. Following Mayor Lion’s decision to reduce, but not fully scrap, the project, two senior planners from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel recently resigned in response.

 BICYCLES FOR Jerusalem organized ride on Jaffa Road. (credit: BICYCLES FOR JERUSALEM) BICYCLES FOR Jerusalem organized ride on Jaffa Road. (credit: BICYCLES FOR JERUSALEM)

Transportation troubles

Tsur also says alarm bells are clanging loudly due to the continued citywide construction drive. “Jerusalem, generally speaking, is going through that agonizing metamorphosis from being a city where you can’t manage without a car to being a city where you can’t manage with a car.”

That, she observes, is not entirely down to a blinkered, revenue-grabbing municipal ethos. She says she was the prime mover behind the controversial plan to run a section of the light rail’s Blue Line down the German Colony’s central artery, Emek Refaim Street. But that was stymied, at least temporarily, by the “very rich good folk of Emek Refaim, who spent millions in order not to have the light rail in their street.” (While the city has said the project will go forward there, with a construction tender published, residents still dispute it.)

She points to a survey at the time which found that 80% of traffic along there was en route to Talpiot. “Why should they be polluting Emek Refaim on the way to Talpiot? Let them drive along Hebron Road and people can go to Talpiot on the light rail.”

Hassan-Nahoum asserts that while the city’s current infrastructure development program has clogged streets and roads, these “birthing pains” will ultimately lead to a better transportation experience for Jerusalem’s citizens. 

We all know, however, how much Israelis love their cars, with many households owning two per family. With more housing going up than ever, there are paradoxically more residents with more cars on the road, in the same limited places to park. Yet Hassan-Nahoum adds that residents will have less need to drive a car in Jerusalem once the light rail system reaches all the neighborhoods. “Unfortunately,” she concedes, “we are not quite there yet.”

It may take time, but the city is working to accomplish that goal. In February, the light rail’s Purple Line segment was approved. It will run through four neighborhoods and form an east-west axis, passing through Kiryat Hayovel, Malcha, Pat and Katamonim, all neighborhoods undergoing urban renewal processes. The 4.5 km.-long Purple Line will cross the other lines – the Red, Green and Blue. 

The government has approved a budget of more than NIS 13b. to complete the planning and implementation of the Blue and Purple lines, including complementary projects that will improve accessibility to light rail stations. (The continuation of the Purple Line, planned to enter the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, is still in the planning process.) 

Biking through Jerusalem

Of course, were we less enamored with our steering wheel we might want to consider getting from A to B with our hands on handlebars. That offers a pollution-free, definitively physical and emotional health-inducing reliable and eminently efficient mode of transport.

But, while it must be said there many more kilometers of cycle paths around Jerusalem these days, with the Jerufun municipal bike rentals newly available citywide, municipality enterprise in that area is still a woeful foot-dragging business. “They are investing in cycling routes but they are doing it too little too late,” says Tsur. “I think there are two main problems with the Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan Team [focused on the formulation and promotion of strategic plans, in conjunction with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Transportation Ministry, for the development of advanced transportation models; and on monitoring the bodies implementing the approved plans]. 

“They have two basic lacks. None of them have ever been on public transport, and none of them have ever tried to ride a bike from A to B in town.” That seems akin to asking someone who is tone deaf to review a classical music concert.

As a cyclist and an energetic activist, and cofounder of the Jerusalem for Bicycles group, Oren Lotan is keenly aware of the deficiencies of the municipal cycle route construction strategy. Even so, he feels he and the mayor are not on entirely opposite sides of the fence here. 

“Moshe Lion’s heart is in the right place. He supports bicycles but City Hall has still not understood how to relate to bicycle paths. They understand the importance of the network, but they still don’t understand how it should work in practice.”

Lotan believes Lion could go an extra yard or two in ensuring that cyclists can get around without having to face off against motorized gas guzzlers, or resort to wending their way between pedestrians when they run out of room on the street. 

“The people in the municipality are still going for clumsy solutions for cyclists, partly because they are wary of taking areas away from cars, even in places where that would be easy.”

Regarding the continued construction work on the light rail, wouldn’t it make financial, and logistical, sense to including cycling paths, walking routes and shaded liner green lungs in the light rail infrastructure phases? 

Sadly, the municipality is not catering to that. “They say it’s not possible,” says Lotan. “Of course it’s possible, but you have to eat into the room on the street for cars. This municipality is much better than in [former mayor Nir] Barkat’s time – he did absolutely nothing for cyclists – but they are still going for unwieldy solutions, and they have to have the courage to reduce the road space for cars.”

Tsur shines a little light on the evolving urban picture. She feels the municipality has, over the years, done some good work that benefits one and all in the city. 

“Jaffa Road, with the light rail [Red Line], like the area between Tsur Baher and Armon Hanatziv, are places where different populations mingle happily – haredi, secular, traditional, Jews, Muslims, Christians, all the different kinds of Jerusalemites. We have to look after those places. They are terribly, terribly precious.” These are some of the very good things Jerusalem has received in the last 20 years or so – the revitilization of Jaffa Road, the Ben Yehuda Street midrahov (pedestrian mall), the Mahaneh Yehuda shuk.

Green agenda notwithstanding, Tsur understands the need to build upward. “Cities put up tall buildings. Cities do that. That’s OK, as long as – a serious caveat – they make sure, if they are building thousands and thousands of housing units, they are providing the necessary services, parks, schools.”

 Impossible infrastructure

Tova Gazala has a pressing issue with the latter, with her local issue being symptomatic of a citywide problem and a general feeling that it is hard for residents to make themselves heard by the powers that be. The New York-born longtime Israeli resident lives in Old Katamon, with many Anglos and Israelis paying top dollar to live in the pleasant, pastoral neighborhood with its charming Arab-styled homes. The Gazalas live on Kovshei Katamon Street, right opposite the Horev Elementary School. 

“We knew there was a school there when we moved in but, a few months ago, they moved the bus stop right opposite us, and there’s no island there,” she says. In this country that naturally, results in a cacophony of car horns which impatient drivers believe will do the trick.

“We complained about that,” says Gazala. “We talked to someone from the community police and we also contacted the municipality about it. They did nothing.” It is also a dangerous, not just a noisy, state of affairs. “And a couple of kids got run over there,” she adds.

That decorum situation has been exacerbated by afterschool Ezra youth movement activities, and Gazala says the school has started providing accommodation for religious people staying in Jerusalem over Shabbat.

Gazala says she and other locals went through the wringer with protracted renovation work on Hapalmach Street just up the road (as did many on many Jerusalem streets over the past few years). She echoes Lotan’s observations about the efficacy of combining different types of infrastructure initiatives. “It took so long. They kept opening and closing the street, working step by step. And the problem is the result, at the end of all that work, isn’t great. The street is still crowded and you have to drive carefully to pass other cars.”

There are more matters to be addressed close to home. “They repaired the park [on Kovshei Katamon Street], they did a wonderful job. But there is a tower the kids play on with an opening, it is very high, and if there are 15 kids there one is going to land on their head.” Gazala says she did her best to alert the authorities to the danger. “I wrote to the municipality twice, and they just said the Standards Institute said it’s safe. And that was that.”

A clean dream?

There are the good points to focus on.

“I think that residents can say that Moshe Lion has cleaned up the city,” declares Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum. “It is markedly cleaner since he came into office. He has put a great deal of resources into all parts of city – east and west alike.” She adds that Lion succeeded in privatizing part of the city’s cleaning services, which had never been accomplished. 

Indeed, many residents remark – with something akin to surprised awe – on just how quickly sanitation trucks get into gear immediately after the end of Shabbat. 

In its continuing effort to clean up the streets, the municipality – through the Sanitation Department and with the assistance of the Environmental Protection Ministry – has also been installing large trash bins/compactors throughout the city. These moves, the municipality believes, will lead to a reduction in the number of garbage removals during daytime, improving Jerusalem’s visibility and reducing the trucks clogging its streets.

Hassan-Nahoum suggests that Mayor Lion has three key strengths. “He is a very authentic person who talks to everyone, and more importantly, listens,” says Hassan-Nahoum. “He doesn’t think that he knows it all. Secondly, he can balance many different forces in the city. Third, he knows how to engage different government ministries to bring more resources to the city. He knows the system.”

Let’s hope the future holds better things for this long-suffering city, with its millennia of battles, of all ilks. A greener, calmer, more socially cohesive city with a more even budget allocation would be a boon for us all. ■ 

***

Some Jerusalem milestones

  • 1892 – The Jerusalem railway station opens between Hebron and Bethlehem roads, part of the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway until its closure in 1998. In 2013, its renewal as a cultural and entertainment center is strengthened with the addition of café and restaurants.
  • 1898 – German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II visits Jerusalem (and Bethlehem).
  • 1925 – The Hebrew University opens. The world’s largest library for Jewish studies – the National Library of Israel – is located on its Givat Ram campus. 
  • 1932 – The Biblical Zoo is established – as a small petting zoo on Rav Kook Street, moving in 1941 and 1947. The new zoo we know today opened in the Manahat/Malha neighborhood in 1992.
  • 1934 – Hadassah Medical Center opens in Jerusalem.
  • 1946 – Irgun underground organization bombs the King David Hotel’s southern wing, targeting the British administrative headquarters for Mandatory Palestine – with 91 killed and 46 injured.
  • 1949 – The seat of government moves from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: to the Knesset’s temporary residence in Beit Frumin on Jerusalem’s King George Avenue. In 1966, the Knesset moves to its permanent residence in Kiryat Ben Gurion.
  • 1957 – Yad Vashem opens.
  • 1961 – Notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann is tried in Jerusalem. Sentenced to death, he is hanged in 1962.
  • 1964 – The remains of Zionist icon Ze’ev Jabotinsky and his wife Johanna are transferred to Jerusalem.
  • 1965 – Teddy Kollek – “the greatest builder of Jerusalem since Herod” – becomes mayor, holding office until 1993.
  • 1965 – The Israel Museum opens, as the country’s largest cultural institution. 
  • 1967 – “The Temple Mount is in our hands”: Reunification!
  • 1971 – The Jerusalem Theatre opens with one hall, the Sherover. 
  • 1975 – An explosive device hidden in a refrigerator explodes in Zion Square, killing 14 people and injuring 62.
  • 1983 – Protest vigil against Lebanon War begins outside prime minister Menachem Begin’s residence, with a calendar-like sign flipping to a higher number every time a soldier is killed. 
  • 1983 – Emil Grunzweig becomes a martyr of the Israeli Left after a grenade is thrown into the dispersing crowd of a Peace Now march.
  • 1993 – Ehud Olmert upsets Kollek in the mayoral election.
  • 1993 – The plan to establish an integrated transportation system in Jerusalem is approved.
  • 1993 – Jerusalem Venture Partners is founded, a fledgling step in establishing a hi-tech presence in the capital.
  • 1999 – Mobileye, the Jerusalem-based tech giant which develops autonomous driving technologies, is founded. In 2017, it is acquired by Intel.
  • 2001 – Sbarro bombing in the heart of the city center kills 15 and injures 130.
  • 2001 – Tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi is assassinated at Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel.
  • 2006 – IDF soldier Gilad Schalit is kidnapped. The vigil by his parents outside the Prime Minister’s Residence goes on until his release in 2011. 
  • 2018 – The UK’s Prince William visits Jerusalem.
  • 2019 – The US Embassy opens in Jerusalem.